April 13, 2014

Rainbow Deviled Eggs (colored with homemade food dye!)

Spring has finally sprung! Easter is coming. So I made these little celebratory morsels of delish the other day.

They're so fun to make, it's almost embarrassing. And while it must be said that for optimal entertainment, these should be made with your friends who are younger than 12, if you can't round up any kids for this one, don't worry, you will feel your own inner kid jumping for joy when you pull those brightly-colored eggs out of your own easy homemade dyes.

The dyes are made using foods that you'll probably have readily on hand in your kitchen: beets, red cabbage, and turmeric. Of course, this is only scratching the surface of the vast possibility of colors you can create from common foods (onion skins, hibiscus tea, black tea are just some of the other ones to try), but I wanted to keep it to three colors and relatively simple. Read how to make these easy dyes below. But first, the chickens deserve some thanks and acknowledgement.

This recipe happened because there's been an overflow of eggs around the farm lately and I've been making every egg dish I can think of. We've been "chicken-sitting" for friends, so the chicken population suddenly doubled.

Not to mention this is the time of year when chickens suddenly go into marathon egg-laying mode.

One thing to keep in mind if you have access to farm-fresh eggs is that fresh-laid eggs don't peel very easily, so when making hard-boiled eggs, it's best to use eggs that are at least a few days old. (* flash update: Or as a reader pointed out in the comments below (thank you Carol!!), to hard boil day-fresh eggs that peel easily, simply STEAM them using a basket steamer, for 12 to 13 minutes, then immediately plunge in ice water to cool and peel under running water while they are still warm).

So here's how I went about making these deviled eggs. First… the dyes. 

For the pink dye: 
Combine 2 cups of water and 1 cup chopped beets. Boil for about 20 to 30 minutes. 
Strain the solids out. Add 1 Tbsp vinegar and 1 tsp salt and stir.

For the blue dye: 
Combine 2 cups of water and 2 cups chopped red cabbage. Boil for about 20 to 30 minutes. 
Strain the solids out. Add 1 Tbsp vinegar and 1 tsp salt. To turn the mixture blue, add 3/4 tsp. baking soda and stir.

For the yellow dye: 
Combine 2 cups of water and 1 Tbsp turmeric. Boil for about 20 to 30 minutes. 
Strain the solids out. Add 1 Tbsp vinegar and 1 tsp salt and stir.

To dye the eggs, you will first need to hard-boil them and peel them. You then plop them in the dyes and let the magic begin. The longer you leave them in, the brighter the colors. I left mine in for about one hour and this is how they turned out. 

And this is what one of my cutting boards looked like once I was done with this recipe.

Once your eggs are dyed to your liking, you can go ahead and make the deviled eggs as you normally would. Use your own favourite deviled egg recipe, or skip the mayonnaise and try my easy Greek yoghurt recipe on PBS Food(I promise these are so good you won't even miss the mayo!) 

Happy Easter!

March 27, 2014

Lentils Stewed in Tomatoes and Red Wine

Well, we survived the "bombogenesis". I was wide awake through much of the night, mesmerized by the live graphics on my computer screen showing the storm barrelling up the coast, and nervously listening to the house shaking from side to side and the wind hurling itself at the windows. But it's over, and by the looks of it, everyone stayed safe inside. 

Well, maybe not everyone. Ever heard of storm dancers??

You gotto love these guys. Here's more about what they were doing

I think I might try it out next blizzard. Though I sincerely hope that that will not be until NEXT year. 

Now our road looks like this.

And the snowdrifts look like this.

And inside I have this little branch sprouting out hope.

And as much as I would love to deny this, it's still time for winter food. 

Luckily there are these lentils. These lentils that have made me wonder why I've ever prepared lentils any other way. Rich and full of flavour, stewed in red wine and tomatoes, a little bacon, celery and carrots. I am very very pleased with this dish. Though I would sincerely like to move on to springtime food. But not just quite yet.

In the meantime, if you're in need of a warming snowy day dinner, I hope you'll give these a try. Let me know what you think!

My recipe is on PBS Food.

March 25, 2014

"Banana Bread" Smoothie

Things are pretty yucky around here. As in stomach flu yucky. Catpants, my cat-sitting assignment for the month of March, has been my faithful bedside companion through it all, eyeing me with great curiosity and mild concern as I heave into the large bowl by my bed. She then crawls onto my belly to give me the cat paw-squeeze massage and then we watch episodes of Sherlock. That pretty much describes the last 24 hours.

As a kid, I remember secretly enjoying getting sick on some level, because my mom would often buy me a new game or puzzle to do in bed, and it was an excuse to forget the daily grind, and place one's full attention on sleeping, catching up on a favorite book, and watching movies while sipping on something delicious. Even now, despite how rotten I feel, there's an element of freedom in letting the dishes pile up, deadlines getting waved aside, and spending the entire day in bed. We so seldom allow ourselves the time to really sit back and truly do nothing, that sometimes it takes getting sick to force ourselves to take a real break from everything.

As if a nasty virus isn't enough, tomorrow's forecast is equally explosive: everyone is bracing for half a meter of snow and by the sounds of it, it'll be the worst snowstorm yet this winter. You know it's bad when they throw around terms like “bombogenesis". Fabulous.

I woke up this morning and foolishly thought I was on the mend. I was starving and convinced my stomach could manage a large cheese and mushroom omelette. Big. Mistake. This storm has not passed. So it was back to bed, with Catpants, and the bowl. I'm now approaching the hunger pangs a little more delicately and finally, after a wobbly foray down to the kitchen, managed to whip up the quick and easy 'banana bread' smoothie I've become quite smitten with this winter. 

It was exactly what I needed. Heaven in a glass. I don't know if it's because I'm so sick, but it was like a sweet nectar on my lips. And very gentle on a queasy belly. I thought I should share the recipe with you, in case you need a little sweet comfort yourself, whether it be from the impending weather or whatever may be ailing you. This smoothie will make it better.

(Makes one large serving or two small servings)

1 very ripe banana
1/4 cup walnuts (I always buy walnut halves in bulk so I can taste them for freshness before I buy them, because pre-packaged chopped walnuts are often rancid)
1 cup milk of choice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 small dates
2 pinches of cinnamon
1 pinch of ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp ground flax seed (optional)

In a small bowl, cover the dates in boiling water and let them soak for 5 minutes to soften them. Drain them and add them to all the other ingredients in the blender. I generally start with half the milk and gradually add in the last half after a bit of initial blending, to ensure a silky smoothie with no lumps. Blend for a minute or until smooth. Before serving, taste and adjust to your liking: more spices if you wish or more milk if you find it too thick. Enjoy!

Catpants says hello and stay snug in that snowstorm tomorrow!!!